Steelers Specialist Drawing Interest From NFC Rival: Report

Mike Tomlin

Getty Head coach Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers are reportedly receiving interest for punter Braden Mann from the Philadelphia Eagles.

Braden Mann had a strong final preseason performance for the Pittsburgh Steelers on August 24. He averaged 49 yards per punt and pinned all three of his attempts inside the Atlanta Falcons 20-yard line.

However, it might not be enough to make the team.

Fellow punter Presley Harvin III, who has been the Steelers’ punter since 2021, had a strong preseason and will likely retain his job. But that doesn’t mean the Steelers won’t yield something from bringing in Mann this offseason.

Pro Football Network’s Adam Caplan reported on August 25 that the Philadelphia Eagles are interested in Mann.

“The Eagles already recently waived UDFA P Ty Zentner, and while third-year pro Arryn Siposs was doing well last season before suffering a serious ankle injury during a Week 14 game against the host New York Giants, the team has tried to bring in competition not just with Zentner, but they placed a waiver claim for former Jets P Braden Mann back in April,” wrote Caplan.

“So should the Pittsburgh Steelers — who were the team awarded Mann — cut him, keep an eye on the Eagles potentially for his services through waivers once again.”

The Steelers claimed Mann off waivers ahead of the Eagles on April 15. He punted three seasons for the New York Jets from 2020-22.

Presley Harvin III Wins Steelers Punting Job?

The Jets drafted Mann in the sixth round of the 2020 NFL draft. He won the Ray Guy award as college football’s best punter in 2018. Throughout his college career, Mann averaged 48.9 yards per punt.

But it’s easy to forget that Harvin also won the Ray Guy award in 2020. He proved to be at least equal to Mann through the offseason competition this summer.

“Mann had to decisively beat out Harvin to get the nod,” wrote The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly. “He hasn’t come close to doing so.”

ESPN’s Brooke Pryor also projected Harvin to keep his job.

“Harvin held off fellow Ray Guy Award winner Braden Mann in a training camp battle to secure his job,” Pryor wrote. “He booted a 52-yarder in the second preseason game, and all five of his punts through the first two games landed inside the 20.”

Harvin averaged 43.6 yards per punt with a 39.5 yard net average during his first two NFL seasons. He also dropped 32.4% of his punts inside the opponents’ 20-yard line.

Mann led the NFL in punts and punt yards as a rookie in 2020. He has averaged 45.4 yards per punt and 39.3 net yards per punt during his three-year career.

Projecting Steelers’ Specialists to Begin 2023 NFL Season

The Steelers will have some difficult roster decisions to make before August 29 when the NFL rosters must go from 90 players to 53. But the specialist positions for the team should be straight forward.

Kicker Chris Boswell is coming off a down 2022 season, but he dealt with injuries throughout the season. That contributed to his 71.4 field goal percentage, which was the second-worst field-goal percentage of his career.

But Boswell has rebounded during training camp and the preseason, causing the Steelers hope that he will return to his Pro Bowl form.

At long snapper, the Steelers also have a stalwart in Christian Kuntz.

“Kuntz hasn’t had a bad snap since taking over the job in 2021,” Kaboly wrote. “He’s 29 and is still making the league minimum, which is significant for his continued employment.”

With the final roster cutdown day looming, the Eagles could wait to see if they can claim Mann off waivers after the Steelers likely release him. But if Philadelphia is desperate enough for a punter upgrade, perhaps a trade is possible.

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